Whenever I start prepping a new novel or play, I begin with a deep read and build a set of study questions to guide students through the work. These questions are designed to get students to stop, notice, and comment on important elements in the story, but they’re also a tool to help me remember what points I want to make about each chapter during class discussions.

I share my question sets on TpT and it’s gratifying to know that my work helps ease other teachers’ prep load. Folks have told me that they like the questions because they move students beyond basic comprehension, but simply having students sit and write answers to study questions chapter after chapter is…well…pretty boring. Continue reading

Eric Thiel, a science teacher at Amador Valley H.S. and all-around good guy, spent 38 years in the classroom and decided to retire this year. On Friday night, he handed diplomas to his last batch of seniors. On Saturday night, he died. His family’s still waiting to hear if it was a heart attack or aneurysm, but the cause is less important to me than the fact that a great man is dead. And he was one of the greats. Continue reading

Are you facing the Dead Zone? You know, that end-of-year slog where you’ve wrapped up your last major unit and reviewed for finals, but still have a week before exams? I’m right there with you, but we have no worries. Here are some tried-and-true resources that’ll keep our kids focused until finals. Continue reading

I’m taking an improv comedy class this spring (yeah, I’m a nerd – you already knew that, right?) and one of the games we were taught actually provides the perfect strategy to cope with any tedious meeting we’re required to attend. Continue reading

When Norman Ollestad was 11 years old, he was the sole survivor of a Cessna airplane crash in the mountains north of Los Angeles. Last week, one of my freshmen finished Ollestad’s memoir, Crazy for the Storm, and was so enthusiastic during our SSR book talk that I felt compelled to research Ollestad and find […]

After Idaho’s snowiest winter in more than 100 years (yeah, that happened), spring has finally sprung and my passion project is done. This week, I’ll present my 20Time results to students as I model their end-of-project speech assignment, but I thought a few blog friends might also be curious about how things turned out. Continue reading

Last week, I was having coffee with my neighbor-friend Jenn, who works as a therapist, and I noticed some adult coloring books on sale at the shop.

“That’s trendy,” I said.

“And therapeutic,” she replied, going on to explain how she often has her teen and adult clients color during their counseling sessions. She even gives some sheets to stressed out clients to complete as homework. Huh. Since everything in my brain circles back to my classroom, I thought, “Okay then, let’s give it a try.” Continue reading